August 4th, 2011
Rudolf Brazda, who is believed to be the last surviving gay Holocaust survivor, has died at the age of 98. The Berlin branch of the Lesbian and Gay Association said that he died on Wednesday. He died peacefully in his sleep in a nursing home, where he resided since last June.
Born in 1913, Brazda grew up in Meuselwitz near the Czech border, where he frequently ran into trouble with local authorities over his homosexuality. Meuselwitz later became the site for a subcamp for the Buchenwald concentration camp. Brazda spent three years from 1942 through 1945 at Buchenwald, after having been convicted of homosexuality by the Nazis as a “repeat offender.” After the war, he moved to the Alsace region of eastern France. Last year, he co-authored Itinerary of a Pink Triangle about his internment, forced labor, beatings, and harassment. The book is not yet available in English.
During the Nazi regime, an estimated 54,000 men were arrested by the Nazis under Paragraph 175, the criminal code which outlawed male homosexuality. Upwards of 15,000 of them were sent to concentration camps, where it is estimated that approximately 60% died. The end of the war meant liberation for the much larger interned populations of Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Russians, and other undesirables, but allied forces often returned gay men to post-war prisons to continue to serve out their terms. Homosexuality wasn’t formally decriminalized in Germany until 1994.
Brazda’s funeral will be held on Monday. In accordance with his will, Brazda’s remains will be cremated and his ashes placed alongside those of Edward Meyer, his life partner of more than 50 years who died in 2003.
Earlier this year, Brazda was awarded France’s Legion of Honor. An interview with Brazda was posted on YouTube last October.
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.